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More on the FBI and ACLU

Over at Volokh, Orin Kerr writes “The New York Times ACLU Story Begins to Look A Bit Fishy.” The essence of Kerr’s argument is that with the ACLU’s request for any document mentioning the ACLU, of course they’re going to get a lot of documents:

I should point out that it is at least theoretically possible that all of the documents that “refer” to the ACLU are actually “on” the ACLU. At the same time, my tentative sense is that Lichtblau’s story may have a significant error.

So this seems to be plausible. The way that Federal agencies interpret Freedom of Information Acts compel citizens to make broad requests. Naturally, the FBI has lots of documents that mention the ACLU. There’s doubtless over 1200 pages of lawsuit memoranda.

But if this is the case, why are there over twice as many documents about Greenpeace? (2,383 Greenpeace, 1,173 ACLU.) It would seem reasonable that the ACLU would be mentioned all over the place. So, for now, I’ll stay with the “on” hypothesis: That whatever spin may be in the press release, the FBI has been compiling dossiers on the ACLU.

Also, Daniel Solove has a good update to his article discussing the trust aspects of the FBI and the ACLU.

2 comments on "More on the FBI and ACLU"

  • keydet89 says:

    I have to wonder…how many of these folks who are raising a stink with regards to this issue have spent time conducting intel or counter-intel operations? How many have spent time protecting something?
    So, then, what is the threshold? How many pages are deemed necessary, or too many, when lives are at stake? Is one life saved enough justification, or are more required? If so, how many?
    H. Carvey
    “Windows Forensics and Incident Recovery”

  • Adam says:

    The FBI has a long history of extended and baseless surveillance of “left wing” organizations, to the exclusion of criminals. For example, the decade-long surviellance of Martin Luther King, or a dozen civil rights groups, to the exclusion of the Klan. Or in the 80s, the focus on CISPES, to the exclusion of militia groups. The FBI has a limited number of agents, and I’d like to see them focused on the threat of terrorism.

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